Charleston’s Composting: A Success Story

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The City of Charleston, South Carolina’s composting program has seen a remarkable expansion thanks to the community’s enthusiastic participation and commitment to sustainability. This initiative, which has been met with a “phenomenal response” from residents, underscores the positive impact that collective effort and strategic partnerships can have on environmental conservation.

As a proud partner in this endeavor, EcoSafe is thrilled to celebrate the success of Charleston’s composting program. This collaboration not only supports the city’s environmental goals but also aligns perfectly with our mission to collect food scraps anywhere that food is consumed, sold, or processed.

A significant factor contributing to the success of Charleston’s composting program is the meticulous approach to maintaining low contamination rates. The city and its surrounding municipalities have implemented rigorous educational programs and qualification processes for residents wishing to participate. By ensuring that participants are well-informed about what can and cannot be composted, Charleston has managed to keep contamination levels impressively low, which enhances the quality of the compost produced and the efficiency of the composting process.

The expansion of this program is a testament to what can be achieved when communities and businesses come together for a common purpose. Charleston’s residents have embraced the composting initiative and set a commendable example for cities nationwide. This initiative not only helps in reducing landfill waste but also plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by preventing methane emissions from organic waste degrading anaerobically in landfills.

As Charleston Sustainability Director, Katie McKain points out in this article on ABC news, sending food waste to landfills is unfortunately still a common practice, but it’s not without its consequences. Approximately 25-40% of the material in landfills is compostable, which includes substantial amounts of food waste. This not only contributes to the rapid filling of landfills but also exacerbates environmental problems. In the anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment of a landfill, food waste decomposes and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. This emission of methane significantly contributes to the climate crisis, underlining the inefficiency and environmental harm of landfilling organic waste.

In contrast, separating food waste for composting at a commercial facility presents a sustainable and beneficial alternative. By diverting food waste from landfills, these facilities help extend the lifespan of existing landfills and reduce the need for new ones, thus preserving more natural landscapes. Commercial composting facilities process organic waste aerobically (with oxygen), which avoids the production of methane and instead produces carbon dioxide, a less potent greenhouse gas.

The end product of this process is compost, a rich organic material that can significantly improve soil quality. This compost is invaluable for reducing or preventing erosion, rehabilitating soils damaged by intensive agricultural practices, and providing nutrients that enhance plant growth. By returning valuable organic matter to the earth, commercial composting supports sustainable agriculture and landscaping, contributing to a healthier planet.

We at EcoSafe are immensely proud to be part of such a transformative project. Our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable practices continues to be reinforced by the positive outcomes of such partnerships. We look forward to continuing our support for Charleston and other communities, aiming to make the world a greener, more sustainable place one step at a time.

Congratulations to the City of Charleston and all involved for your dedication and hard work. Your success is an inspiring reminder of the power of community and sustainability in action. Keep up the great work!

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the supply chain. The biggest proportion (about 37%) happens in the home.

ReFED, 2021